Ways to Make Your Deck Safe
When you have children and pets, you take steps to baby- and pet-proof your home, but many overlook the backyard deck. The weather is warming up and you’ll be spending more time outdoors with family and friends. Whether you’re entertaining on the deck or just relaxing, it’s important to make your deck safe.
The first line of defense is the entrances to your deck. Install locks on the gate leading to the deck and on doors that allow access to the area. Locks should be installed out of the reach of children. You’ll find a selection of options online or at your local hardware store. Consider installing additional baby-proofing locks in case the first lock is left open.
For sliding doors, install a child safety lock on the tracks of the door frame. Locks for standard doors can be installed on the door and frame to prevent the door from opening, even when the main lock has been unlatched.
Check Railings to Make Your Deck Safe
Spindle spacing is important for safety. The spindles of the deck railing should be no more than three inches apart. If you have smaller pets, you may need to reduce the space between spindles to keep them from slipping through or becoming trapped.
On new deck construction, make requests based on what you need. With an existing deck, look for railing covers to boost safety if the spindles are too far apart. Attach a plastic mesh or sheet of lattice fencing to cover the spindles and make your deck safer.
If you have young children or pets, you may already rely on baby gates indoors to keep pets and children out of dangerous areas. They can also be used outside on your deck stairs.
Install two gates for maximum protection: one gate at the top of the stairs and the other at the bottom. Use safety gates that are designed for outdoor use, such as those made of metal or treated wood. Choose a gate that has vertical bars instead of horizontal bars so that children cannot easily climb over the barrier.
Know About Toxic Plants
Container plants add color to your deck, but some are toxic to children or pets. To make your deck safe, read up on your plants. Choose varieties that are safe if ingested by animals or children. If you store toxic chemicals on your deck like bug spray, fertilizer, and plant food, keep these products in a locked deck box and out of reach of children.
Maintaining your deck is an important part of keeping it safe. This means repairing decking components that are damaged or rotting. Sand the deck to remove splinters and periodically refinish the surface with stain or weatherproofing. Pressure-wash the decking boards to remove dirt and mildew or algae growth.